Alastair Gordon – Quodlibet (Hardback)
Alastair Gordon (b.1978, Edinburgh), is an artist based in London. This, the first major monograph of the artist’s career, includes over 160 paintings, drawings and documentational photographs, along with notes by Gordon himself. The book introduces this accomplished and engaging new voice in British painting.Gordon’s paintings bring the historic languages of genre painting and the quodlibet into a contemporary discourse that pushes the boundaries of realism, figuration and illusionism to focus on everyday moments. His work often elevates seemingly ordinary objects – feathers, matchsticks, postcards – allowing them to speak to wider concerns of beauty, truth, life and death. The documented works, produced between 2012 and 2023, include paintings made in oil or acrylic on MDF, wood, ‘found’ wood, gesso panel, paper, canvas and occasionally linen. Each is distinctive for its style and for the recurring motifs Gordon selects such as masking tape, paper ephemera and repeated, subtly different studies of the same subject. Gordon’s texts describe how objects found mud larking on the banks of the River Thames, shoes from the London City Mission and rags and papers discarded from art students’ studios have been depicted in paintings, incorporating the histories and stories of each item (and each person) into his work. The book also features recent works influenced by rural landscapes and parkland.An introduction by Julia Lucero, Associate Director of Nahmad Projects, London, emphasises the importance of nature and of meditation within Gordon’s practice. Specifically, Lucero brings out the idea of the ‘axis mundi, that metaphysical and mystical connecting point where heaven meets Earth’. She explores the significance of quodlibet, a seventeenth-century trompe-l’oeil painting technique that Gordon favours, rendering brushstrokes invisible and affording everyday objects new significance, even ‘profound value’. Humble objects such as a matchstick or paper aeroplane might be elevated to the realms of the divine. An essay by Jorella Andrews, Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, describes the influence of Gordon’s time on a research residency in the former studio of Paul Cézanne at Les Lauves on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence. His experiences there proved pivotal to the direction of his practice, in which both the ‘visual misdirection’ of quodlibet and the qualities of wood have become central. Andrews brings art historical texts and works of art into relation with Gordon’s paintings, making comparisons between subject, form and approach. Andrews’ text further details the recent synthesis of two sides of Gordon’s work: precise illusionism combined with looser observations made in the natural landscape.Edited by Alastair Gordon Studio, designed by Herman Lelie, printed by EBS Verona and published in 2023 by Anomie Publishing, London, the publication has been generously supported by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson through Fieldstead and Company.Alastair Gordon (b. 1978, Edinburgh) is an artist working with painting, drawing and installation, based in London. Gordon received his BA from Glasgow School of Art and his MA from Wimbledon School of Art, London. His work has been shown in recent solo exhibitions at Ahmanson Gallery in Irvine, California (2017), Aleph Contemporary, London (Quodlibet (2021) and Without Borders (2020)) and in the group exhibition Unpacking Gainsborough (2021) at Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London.